Thursday, 18 December 2014

Ebola, Christmas, Running, and so on


Well I guess it’s been a while since we last chatted. It is to be expected for this time of year. I’ve never enjoyed the month of November; nothing ever happens. Days get shorter, weather is colder, half of the people are in the Christmas spirit and inevitably annoy the other half, and so on. Seriously though, I once had this friend who’d buy two advent calendars. One for November, and one for December. He’d always carry around some hot chocolate even if it was 10 over outside. Come to think of it, he probably just really liked chocolate. Anyway, that’s enough about him, I wonder if he’ll read this.

So I had last left you with a story that dragged on longer than the Star Wars series.** My story wasn’t quite as captivating as a Galactic War, but was every much so as confusing. After a weird fainting spell back in October, I was banned from competing with the Xmen by the people wearing the pants for simple and frustrating ‘covering their butts' purposes. I trained on my own and raced as an individual in the purpose that I were to be responsible for any possible future fainting spells. Not a bad deal actually. I didn’t need any kind of permission slip to drive up with a car because I wasn’t the team’s responsibility, and I could hypothetically race under any name, track club, or funky outfit. Thought came to mind of racing as Quenton Cassidy, or even borrowing a teammate's NOP singlet that he allegedly stole from Galen Rupp, but decided to sport the yellow in honour of my alma matter. 

The all-yellow kit seemed to work well for me as I enjoyed a 1 second PB (and an official one this time) in the 3k of the Tiger Track Classic in mid-November with a time of 8:44. Hey, they all count! This sent me along to an off week where I probably gained 10 pounds, which I then lost again in the next few days to the flu. This wasn’t just a regular flu. We were certain that Ebola had found Greening. I caught Cal in his room writing his death will. For the record, he was giving me his Jetta, his cold FX pills, and the running gloves he had stolen from Lee earlier in the year. Sadly, he survived. Could have used that Jetta, and those gloves. It was a rough week. 

Afterwards. regular training resumed. Back to my case, I completed my last medical test today. After months looking for something that in my highly respected 2nd year kinesiology student opinion, isn’t there, the doctors following me gave me the news I was waiting for. I am now cleared to resume racing. However, I was implanted with a small heart monitor in my chest. This was unexpected, and as much as it is cool to feel like a cyborg, it will not let me compete at the Moncton Last Chance meet that I was signed up for on Saturday. No big deal, I desperately need to get some Christmas shopping done anyway.

So yeah, that’s the end of that. No more all-yellow Team Evangeline random runner on the line between university athletes. Just another (hopefully) fast Xman amongst others. For now though, Christmas is approaching. As we get older, it gets weirder when people ask us what we want for Christmas. I wish I could just tell them I want a box of hockey cards like I used to want. The one thing I want most this year surely cannot be bought. Well, there is that and maybe a new phone. Yeah, a new phone would be second on my list if you are still unsure what to get me for Christmas. The iPhone 6s are out, just throwing that out there. You know what? Forget it. A 5 would do I guess. If it’s blue. Nevermind, it’s the thought that counts. 

Just a little something to get you feeling festive - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFjdfjrtf1Q


Joyeux Noel / Merry Christmas

AC

** I was coaxed by the Boys of 18 Greening to start watching those things. They’re ok, but they pale in comparison to my own childhood love, Pokemon.


Sunday, 2 November 2014

The end of the beginning

Does posting twice in a season make one an avid blogger? I'm not going to claim the title.

Does this post need an introduction? It depends. If you are one of those awful people who actually watch individual TV shows derived from illustrious TV series when they appear on TV every now and then, you probably don't follow this blog post by post, so I guess that answers my question. A quick intro will suffice. Here we go.

After an unreal start of the season consisting of an 8th and 6th place overall finish in the two first meets of the year, the fire was burning so hot that the fuel was eventually mismanaged. Not unlike in our lovely home at 18 Greening, the oil was there, but the furnace was not running properly. A mini-burnout, if I can even call it that, lead to a nightmare on Judgement Day that saw me picking myself off the ground for the second time in my life wondering where I was while others were collecting prizes on the StFX soccer field. A fainting spell that caused me to acquire unwanted - and likely unnecessary - medical attention lead to my banning from training with the team until I receive the nod from Doc, or as it seems to be called, the 'clear.' 

That is where I left you. On the medical side of things, this concept of 'clearance' is sounding more mythological by the day, as I am unsure where to turn my head in search of answers. One negative test leads to another, one waiting period brings me to the next, and meanwhile, I am exposing my fitness in unconventional ways. AUS was not in the cards, and based on the lethargic pace of the completion of my always-expanding medical file, neither is CIS. After last year's utmost catastrophe of a freshman season, if we can even call it that, this was the year of redemption. This thought, that I am missing my second consecutive championship season, is what haunts me most. I do not need to prove anything more to myself, for I have reached a level of fitness which I thought was still a few years away after last year's said catastrophe. But, the thirst to measure oneself to a plethora of their peers from all over the country is what motivates every runner to the core, and it is something that I will regretfully be missing out on. However, it would be idiotic of me to pack it in and call it a season. Work without reward is useless. Just ask the Leafs. 

So with this in mind, I followed my ego back to PEI for the weekend to enter the Wally Rodd 10k. With a collection of 10k workouts in the legs, I had a pretty good feeling about this one. A fast course on a chilly day brought me to a time of 32:41, besting the previous course record by a tiny margin of 3 seconds. This constituted a personal best for me by over 80 seconds. It made the 3-hour-long trip back home with Neuffer and his iTunes playlist worthwhile, and it will make watching CIS a little more bearable. Another great event run by Ready2Race. Results can be found here: http://results.chronotrack.com/event/results/event/event-11147
Not as bad of a finishing face on that day



Met up with Joel and Luc on the start line. They ran the 5k with Luc placing 1st and Joel 3rd!



So this road race (and perhaps a certain impromptu track time trial) was the best lemonade I could come up with. Moreover, I consider this chain of events to be the end of a new beginning. Never had I thought that after being as sick as I was that the comeback would have been so quick and effective, and for that I can only be thankful. Looking forward, the obvious goal is only to build from one season to the next. At the moment, there are about 10-20 different plans in the making for what races we will sign up for in anticipation for next year's dance. What is it about newfound speed that summons such wanderlust? I don't know, but for now it's exciting. To hold on to this fitness and to take it to new levels are the objectives. If clearance doesn't come quickly enough for me to run AUS track, there is always Obamacare.

But, for now, I am strapping on the pompoms and playing the dreaded game of 'where would I have finished at CIS?' which consists of looking at Cal's placement - no matter how he runs - and very optimistically claiming to him that I would have been 5 spots higher. In all seriousness, it will be great to see the guys and girls duke it out with the best. The work we put in together in those long fall months will undoubtedly pay off. And you better not catch yourself fighting with an X runner with 2k to go, because remember - We are not tired. We are not tired. 

Mind is conditioned. 
See you on the rock.

AC




Saturday, 18 October 2014

Cross roads

Middies are over, and the brain is still buzzing. So yeah, time for another post.

I remember having left you with a cliffhanger, not talking about any racing results. I told you that we would blog about it as a family with the boys of 18 Greening. I lied. Truth is, we did not get around to it just yet. Between going to class, going to practice, cleaning Cal's dishes (he's not that bad) and playing Chel, there is not much time left in the day.

We were busy running on our cross roads. Brook, Benyond, Landing, West River, Point, repeat. Each road tells its story. Each story has its road. The selection of the road, repeated every day, is always interpreted in a different manner. The selection usually reflects our moods that day. The repetitive pounding on these varying surfaces is the glue that keeps everything together. It is what recharges us after a hard workout effort and what prepares us for the next. Say what you want about easy runs, they are more essential than PK Subban is to the Habs defence corpse. Actually they don't really need him for defence, or for economic purposes while we're at it. Bad analogy, never mind. Anyway, these easy runs and cross country roads and routes are what keep us together as a unit, and they welcomed me back smoothly, as the first few races were at a time fast, and enjoyable.
Sept - 13th Acadia Invitational 8k - 8th - 26:02
Sept - 20th UNB/STU Classic 8k - 6th - 26:19 

No pictures provided. Couldn't find a good one of myself. If you are curious, check out my previous post. I am currently working on looking better at the end of races. By growing out my hair in flow, the plan is in action. Don't worry. I may look like your typical 'beaut,' but I don't spit in bottles.

Since that anemia-riddled 18:47 5k that I ran in June, the improvement has been amazing, albeit purely physiological. But after these two little dances, things took a turn for the weird. If you are attentive to detail, you will ask yourself why my last race was in september. Things did not exactly go as planned during the StFX interlocking meet. A meet that I have been anticipating all year is now nothing more than a bad afterthought. Everything started well, warmup was nice. Saw some friends from all over the maritimes and Le Pays du Quebec! All systems go, PRP was out, ready to grind for the hopefully minimal time it was going to take. The thought process during this race went something like this:

1k - Hey this is cool. All the X boys are together, looking good in front of the home crowd. That Chuck guy is fast.
2k - Right, left, turn, right, left, jump, roll, turn, right, right, left, damn squigglies, right, left, left, up. That Chuck guy is gone.
3k - Ok, second loop. Stay with Cal. This feels good.
4k - Halfway. 4k until turkey. I can pick this up a little
5k - I can't pick this up a little. This is hard. This sucks. Why do I run? Keep this pace. Yeah, this is good.
6k - I need sleep, I need to lie down, I need to...oh hey Gregg....f*** this just happened.

I blew a tire. The energy was spent. The tank was mismanaged and emptied before it should have been. I was helped up by our athletic therapists, who took great care of me when I wasn't all there, and helped get me back to full function in no time. I swear that there is no worse feeling than looking up results after a race and optimistically guess where your name would have been. A DNF is like a bad hair day. Nobody else thinks much of it, but it invades your thoughts for the rest of the day and can make you spend a lot of time in the bathroom looking at yourself in the mirror. Good news is, runners get over this stuff, and I was back to my normal self by Tuesday, where I hammered a hard workout feeling great about myself once again. Did I ever not expect what was about to drop on me the next day. I was told by our therapists that my fainting needed medical attention, and that I was not cleared to be running with the team in races OR workouts until I see the specialists. Shit. AUS is in a week. CIS is in 3 weeks. I am now scrambling for answers, and I need them fast.

This news puts me at cross roads. I could take the appreciative road and adopt a peaceful mindset. I could think that this is it for now and just conclude that 'Yeah, Cyr, it's been a good run. You ran well in the summer and in september. Time to take some time off and chill until indoor.' But, being a runner, I opted for the more hellish approach. I have went through hell and back to be where I am now, and I will not let this stop me from training and getting ready for the race that I have been waiting for since last October. Bending the bars and pushing for my medical clearance as far as I can is the only way that I can bring clarity to this situation. If I do not get cleared in time, I know that I did everything in my power that I could. If I do toe the line, I will be fortunate enough to show to everyone that I in fact am ready to race. Fainting happens. As runners, we exert ourselves to the point of near-exhaustion. Sometimes, that point comes faster than expected. We get up, shake it off, and get back out there. After being tested all over in the summer, any more time in hospitals searching for something that isn't there to me is interpreted as downright impedance.

So for now, I am training on my own, waiting for the proverbial green light governed by procedure and ethics, and I will be honest, the pace at which this is going is scaring me. But whenever it comes,  back from exile, I will take off.

Onwards

AC

PS - Because I was not training with the team today, I took on the role of cameraman along with co-sidelined stud and 18 Greening member Alex Neuffer. We picked up some neat footage of a beefy workout and with the help of SD and Fabio, are currently working on something magical.


Sunday, 28 September 2014

Le Grind

It's been a while I guess. Not that long really, only about a month, but that's like 6 months in september years. I swear, this month is the slowest-passing month of the year. I don't know what it is, maybe the beginning of the school year has something to do with it. Yeah, it definitely does.

September is the month that kicks off 'Le Grind.' While enunciating 'Le Grind' somewhat makes me feel like a white girl drinking Starbucks chai tea, I find that it is the best way to put the chaos of this ninth month into words. Schoolwork just begins piling on when we are no more ready or motivated than we were in mid-summer. At the same time, the biggest season of the year is slowly gaining in intensity and in trackie mentions. Days get shorter, and hours become more valuable. Pressure aside, I love it.

I have been getting into a pretty kick-ass groove lately with the training picking up in intensity. The lifestyle has already taken an air of regularity and routine, which is something that can be as painstakingly boring as it can be wildly rewarding. As runners, we usually see it as the latter. Here, we run on a metronome. You could give me any time of day, any day of the week, and I could probably tell you where I am. Of course, none of us could live like this all the time, but as cross country season kicks into gear, we almost feel it to be our duty. There is something unique about maintaining a consistent control over oneself that can breed the results that we dream of, but dare not to reveal out loud.

I may go on a bit of tangent here, well not really. Wow, my psych prof is already having an influence on me. Anyway, why do we sometimes refuse to reveal our goals out loud? Does this masking of our most inner aspirations come from the fear of being shunned or even laughed at? When we talk about what we want to achieve, we always seem to downplay what is actually resonating inside of us, perhaps for the simple purpose of not being put on a pedestal and letting ourselves garner expectations. Also, does keeping those goals quiet and hidden actually hold us accountable to them? Or are they forgotten in the mainstream? I know that some goals I have may seem out of my realm of possibility, and I'm not only talking in terms of running. Some things that I would want to see happen may sometimes seem unlikely to me, but does that make it wrong to thrive for them? To vocalise them? Does taking risks and sometimes pushing the envelope put me behind in any way? Not yet. It's just so easy to lose focus on what we want, when we fail to remind ourselves of it every once in a while. 

So, that was my spiel for the day. We should move on to racing before my train of thought gets lost. At this point, the next post from http://snowcoveredtrack.blogspot.ca is in the works, with all you need to know (and maybe a bit more), so I will only talk briefly about the racing side of things. Since we last chatted, I have partaken in three pretty neat races, counting our team time trial in there. Ok, minimal information includes, in no particular order:

- The X-men and X-women are looking sharp. Partly due to some good placing and spreading better than Nutella, and partly due to those new polos. 

- I achieved a new personal best time over 8k at our first meet of the season.

- Lee sucks at NHL 15
- You can now follow the StFX cross country team on twitter @stfxXC

- I have rediscovered the agony of racing longer distances. With the longer-lasting pain comes The Race Face. Some people have one, others don't. In my case, it's a work in progress. One of these is not from racing here at X, but I threw it in there just to give you a better idea. I have yet to find a flattering racing photo of myself. I'll work on that at next week's meet. 






So that's all for today. I need to go look at carbon bonds for the next hour. The things they make us do here. Quoting one of my wisest friends (to read in a very slight, eastern ontario french accent: 

'Maaan, wouldn't it be nice if we could just run? It would just get so fun to get into that groove. Like no studying, no partying, just run all the time, you know?'

Coming up on the racing scene: 
Moncton open - October 4th
AUS-RSEQ Interlocking meet - October 11th

We don't look further just yet.

À la prochaine

AC

Friday, 22 August 2014

Why I sucked - Part II

Here it is, the last post of the summer. No really, I promise. I realize that I haven't been this vocal and visible across the social mediatic board since that time in grade 7 where my best friend stole my girlfriend on the day of our weekaversary (yeah we called it that). It was a rotten thing to do. A lot of regrettable messages were sent through facebook and MSN. My grade 7 self made me cringe. I was a little ball of ambition, Pokemon, Axe body spray and American Eagle.

Where am I going with this? Oh right. I guess my constant updating, blogging, ALS Ice bucket challenging and so on were a product of a lot of downtime mixed with a rediscovered zeal. I even went against one of my life promises and made an instagram account. I'm pretty awful at it. It's like a mix of twitter, facebook and estrogen. Even on there, like on everywhere, I realize that most of my posts were related to running (except for my occasional rants about dogs...I guess that can also be classified as running related) and eventually, I discovered that it was helping me.

My posting began as a product of insecurity, but it is now to me a physical representation of my progress. As I was talking to a friend who began blogging while recovering from a major injury, she was hesitant for me to read it as she told me that 'they are mostly just for me.' At the time, I didn't really understand. It's just later that I realized that I was subconsciously doing the same. I didn't blog to entertain, I blogged for my own purposes. I unknowlingly needed therapy, and unknowingly went to go get it through blogging. Eventually, a mix of this unorthodox therapy and Ferramax pills began breeding the results that I was looking for, and I ended up doing more racing this summer than I did all year (which as Bryden Tate would kindly remind me, wasn't much.)

So this is the best explanation of my many posts. I could go revisit them all and invite you to join me, but I need to start packing my bags soon. So, in a shortened format, here is the complete documentation of my journey back. To honor my fellow countryman, Drake, I'm starting from the bottom.

Feb 2014
Lee's 8:33 indoor 3k. That indoor season triggered 2 things- The debut of the notorious Not Lee Wesselius twitter account, and the hunch that something was wrong with my running. I had run a 4:32 1500m.
That indoor season was my lowest of lows. It was bad to be injured during XC, but it was even worst to be able to run, but seriously underperforming without knowing why during indoor track season.

March-April-May 2014 - Took some time off for a while and was finally diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia. Solving the case and determining the underlying cause of my struggling was a gift that I can't appreciate enough. After some rest and a lot of thinking, I decided to stay away from the pressure that came with the specificity and repetitiveness of the sport of track and field, and to use road races as a path to find my lost motivation while rediscovering the physical and mental perils of racing.

June 2014 -
College of Piping 5k - First race back with a humbling time of 18:47.  Over 3 minutes off my personal best.
Cornwall classic 5k - 17:52. Still not fast, but progressing
July 2014 -
Cox and Palmer 5k. Finished 1st in a time of 16:45 and left with a neat prize. Saw some more improvement and began to feel fast again


JFC
Headed to Gatineau for a week with this crazy bunch. Was a good break from the routine and a great time. Coaching was awesome, as it presented me with a different perspective of the sport. I can't wait to continue doing so.

August 2014
Hugh Campbell Memorial 5 miler. Finished 1st with a time of 28:54 on a very challenging course.  Later in the month crossed 8k in 27:04 during a tough tempo run on much easier terrain.


Source for Sports run for Kristen Cameron. 34:58 10k - felt pretty relaxed and closed in a 3:06 to take 1st place.  
Gold Cup trot

The 2014 Gold Cup Trot was rumoured to have been the fastest road race in PEI history. I failed to conduct a complete research, but from what I heard, and from all the other results that I did find, I have yet to have found a faster one. It was easily my fastest 5k of the summer. To find out my time, and where I placed among the 5 Xaverians running the race, you will have to read the first post of our 18 Greening house blog.  http://snowcoveredtrack.blogspot.ca - coming soon.

Overall I've experienced some weird things. Going through workouts that seemed impossible the week before became a recurring theme, and I am still seeing some fast improvement now, even if I estimate that my iron is getting close to, if it already isn't, normal. So with the summer of doping through beef liver coming to an end, my thoughts have been shifted towards the future. This second year of being an Xman (and this first year of CIS eligibility) can't come quickly enough. The internal and external expectations which were unfulfilled last year all seem doable this year, and I am excited to make up for the lost time.

Lastly, thanks to all for the positive moral support, you have helped me more than you know. It has been a crazy ride, but in the end I am feeling stronger than ever, but not satisfied. Looking forward to a fun XC season. Kids, eat your damn hamburgers and spinach.

#Strive4Five
AC




Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Jeux de la Francophonie Canadienne 2014

Quite the week this has been. As I write this, I am deprived of a normal sleep cycle and am burnt to a crisp from all the travel, compétition, activities and good times that I had the privilège to share with a great bunch of people. I have just returned from les Jeux de la Francophonie Canadienne which were held in Gatineau from July 23rd to 27th, and despite my heavy pupils and my weary arms and legs, I’d board the plane again tomorrow if I could.

For you english speaking lads and lasses, Les Jeux de la Francophonie, or the Francophone games, are an immense gathering of the french-speaking youth of Canada, put up by La Fédération de Jeunesse Canadienne Francophone. The gathering features music contests, art shows, poetry, and of course, sports. I was honoured to be accepted as a coach of the PEI track and field team. Even though I was just too old to compete and that I was burning to toe the line, I had a crazy time. Leaving the games, I realized exactly how priviledged I was to have lived this expérience along with the people that were there with me. 

Firstly, only for me to get there was a battle of sorts. Because of my age, I was inelligible to compete, but at the same time, I was under the minimal age required to coach. I am 18, look 15 and needed 19, so frankly I was short in years. I didn’t know how I’d be able to make the rules bend, but I knew that I needed to see these guys and girls compete at the big évent for which we had been preparing ourselves for a long time. When you coach a number of athletes, you develop an attachment to them. I was not ready to give my spot to someone else only because of age. I wanted to be able to witness the end result of months to years of training. Eventually, thanks to our Chef de Mission, Brian, we found a way to make it work, and I am thankful for his openness and his willingness to accomodate. I as on my way to Gatineau. Here is a look into our week.

The Games were incredibly well run, and I enjoyed it just as much as the athlètes. In terms of compétition, our athletes broke the PEI record for most medals won in track and field, set by a team that I was a part of as an athlète in 2011. Our team placing was 4th overall, ahead of powerhouses such as Manitoba, BC and Ontario. On the track side, we had many standout performances, including times in the 1200, 800, 400 and 2000 and 4x100 relay that would have nabbed provincial gold at PEISAA’s. Among others, Evan Gallant earned the 800 meter bronze by running a time that would have bested the provincial record. Luc Gallant shaved 51 seconds in his 2000m and grabbed bronze in the process.  On the field side, we had a brother-sister tour de force, as Constance and Malcolm Gilman each earned a gold and bronze medal. Jonathan Goyette had a big day on saturday, winning two silver medals in his throws, along with helping the relay team (with Jonathan Barriault, Warren Buote-Doucette and Jeremie Willis) win the bronze. Bianca Roche cleared the bar at 1.40m to become the bronze medalist of the High Jump. Barriault, who was starter on the relay team, jumped a monstrous 5.87 long jump, smashed his personal best, and earned himself a silver medal. I could go on. Everyone competed at an impressive level, and they greatly responded to the hard work that they had put in for this évent. It was fun to watch.

What the athletes may not have realized, is that I will never be able to repay to them what they have given me. A few of the athletes I had coached for a good while, but the number doubled in the spring when the team was getting shaped for the Francophone games. The regular, structured team practices started in April. Coincidentally, I was then going through what was probably my lowest of lows in running. I had finished a médiocre year at X in terms of racing, I had trouble finishing workouts, and I was looking for a cause. I was then diagnosed with anémia and needed some serious cutting down in my training. I was incapable to forward myself in my sport, with only a summer to prépare for year number 2 in the AUS, where the compétition would only get stiffer. Having struggled for so long while always trying to do the right things had brought me down to a mental level which I had never thought would manifest in my mind. I thought of quitting. What fun is running when all you do is struggle through obstacles. The fire was briefly lost. 

Once my training started picking up, I attributed part of it to my iron levels rising. It was obviously a big part of my healing process, but I would never have gotten where I am today, nor would I ever get as far as I will in the future, alone. Coaching these athletes made me remember why I fell in love with the sport in the first place. Their enthusiasm, their willingness to crush any workout I assigned them, and their desire to improve reminded me of myself before the struggles and helped me get through the insecurity and tough times. Because of them, racing became fun again, even if my health still isn't back to 100%. I started looking forward to my future in running instead of dreading it. The more time I spent with them, the better my racing mentality got. I realized that everyone doubts themselves from time to time, and if I can tell my athletes that being nervous, having bad races, and being hard on oneself are all parts of the sport that we cannot dismiss, I can just as well understand it for myself and apply it to my own running. 

So Boost, Blueballs, Uhaul, Honey, Miley, Sid, Petit Frère, Springs, Thief, Shinylegs , Almost, Tumtum, Great Wall, Shotgun, Mini Me, Happy Feet, Rogers, Bambi, Koala and Terry, thank you. You all have taught me more than you’ll ever know. Plans for a post-games party are in the making.

AC 



Met the Trailer Park Boys at the airport. Bubbles is a STFX Grad










Gracieuseté de la Voix Acadienne



Sunday, 20 July 2014

Summer days

No better time for a new blog post than after a run on a nice humid summer day. I am dirtying up the keyboard with finger sweat, so I'll try to get this over with before it creeps into my computer. So, without further ado, this is what's up...

I've recently rediscovered the dog days of summer. Hot day after hot day, sweaty run after sweaty run. Running shirtless in my short shorts and my fake-oakley-douche-glasses have become a routine. (About those, I'm sorry if they radiate bad vibes. They're just the glasses that best fit my small head. No, to compliment them I do not cover myself in axe body spray nor do I wear tight V-necks very often). Since my last year of running felt like it was directed by Lemony Snickett, this newfound consistency feels new to me. I have realized that I have fallen into the much sought-after groove of summer. Skin gets darker, times get better, you become lighter and confidence is higher. And for me, my red blood count slowly gets better.

For you medical junkies, when I was diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia, my hemoglobin levels were at 77micro g/micro l. After recently getting tested, I am up to 112 micro g/micro l. The optimal levels for a runner being 140 to 180, I still have a way to go, but the improvement is there, and the times have already been dropping considerably. Since running 18:47 for a pitiful 5k in earlyJune, I've been feeling progressively better, and I'm anxious to see where this treatment along with smart training will take me.

Yesterday I hit up the Cox and Palmer 5 and 10k in Charlottetown. Getting to the race, I felt good, but something was telling me that bad luck was on its way. First, I broke my complimentary porcelain mug within minutes of signing up by clumsily dropping it on the ground. Then, I tripped over a black cat coming out of an alley during my warmup. Being a non-superstitious guy, I didn't affect me much, except that Superstition by Stevie Wonder had gotten stuck in my head, and I still catch myself subconsciously humming it. Anyway, as the race gets going, I settle in the front with a few guys. By 2km, I had build a small lead, and was running alone. When I hit a point of the road blocked by cones and a big white truck, I turned. I built my lead from there and won pretty confortably in a humble time of 14:11. Wait, what? I know I've been feeling better, but I'm no allstar Lee Wesselius or Mike Tate just yet. Turns out I had missed the turn around and only had run 4.4k. Worst of it is that I dragged a few people with me and many people ended up making the same mistake. So, lesson of the day: Road racing is a lot like American politics; if you don't know where you're going, don't lead.

Turns out my luck wasn't so bad after all. The head of chip timing, Miguel, graciously extrapolated the times over 5k. It was by no means anyone else's fault but mine, and not to mention the big truck driver's (who actually had nothing to do with the race, just a guy chilling on the boardwalk with his hemi) so I felt bad for the mixup. There were people waiting for us at the turnaround, but because we had never actually gotten there, they simply hadn't seen us. Disregarding that little mishap, the race was very well put up. R2R is always reliable when it comes to chip timing and organisation, and I will definitely keep hitting up their events as much as I can in the future. Also, I had never seen so many door prizes at a single race. There must have been near 50. However, my luck again didn't shine through. My '5k' time was calculated and marked down as a 16:45, which I am pretty excited about. Still a minute off my personal best, but if things keep going like this, I see it going down pretty soon. A feat that will be easier to conquer with my new battle equipment curteousy of Cox and Palmer and Hasheems variety!
Asics Gel Hyperspeeds (left) and Asics Gel Nimbus (right)

Now, it's time to put racing on hold for a bit and focus on next week. I am lucky enough to have been selected as a coach for team PEI at the Francophone games in Gatineau from July 22-28th (missed the athlete age cutoff my a mere 8 months). Since I was competing in the games the last time around, the week might prove itself to be pretty nostalgic. I am very excited for this opportunity, because PEI is sending an athletics team like never before. We have an amazing group, and a Francophone Games post will definitely be in the making next week. For now, enjoy this little clip. Our relay team for the games ran a 4x100 at the PEI Champs. I had to fill in for one guy who couldn't make it. I'm not sure if they'll want to admit that they ran a PB with a distance runner occupying the second leg, but I was fired up about it. Even won my first and probably last sprinting ribbon. Video creds go to JFC head coach Nathan Comeau, and constructive criticism creds go to Ryan O'Regan complaining about my passing.
video















So that's what the groove of summer has gotten me up to. I noticed that many runners are dealing with frustrating injuries, so for those of you who are reading and who can't enjoy summer to its fullest extent because of stress fractures, ACL repairs, sesamoiditis, plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, knee bursitis, Darius Kasparaitis and etc., I wish you a speedy recovery, and I assure you that not only does it get better, but it gets twice as enjoyable.

AC

P.S. - I'm hoping to see a few X-men and women in the nation's capital next week, as I've already been talking to a few. Maybe get out for a run and get fired up for next year together!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Comeback loading...

Well it has been a month since the big punch in the gut, and I'm finally starting to catch my breath again.


So for those of you who don't watch the whole series and who only tune in on the odd Monday night, read this in a low key voice:


Previously on Alex's rollercoaster ride of a year: Alex is running shitty. Alex doesn't care. Alex goes to local road race. Alex passes out. Alex discovers that he is iron deficient and that his hematocrit is inhumanly low. What happens next? Find out now.


Ok, so now that I have your attention, this is what's going down. I've been getting into light training again with a higher concentration on short speed intervals. My volume is still quite short of what I usually am running, but it is increasing ever so slightly every week. My current goal is to run an 800 meter race in the next few weeks. The logic is that because the low iron is mainly hindering the aerobic system, why not take a ride on the anaerobic wild side for a while? Ok, now really anaerobically wild would be to attempt a 400 meter sprint, but I'm not gonna sink that low. The 800 I am thinking of hitting up is in 3 weeks, and if training keeps progressing consistently, I'm excited to see what I can do.


Meanwhile, I had to keep things interesting. I hit up the local 5 and 10k for Scotland in Summerside yesterday. I took a bit of a wrong turn, and ended up running approximately 5.4k instead of 5. No worries, still managed to take the W and win myself 2 tickets to the PEI Highland festival next month! So if anyone is interested let me know, I'm not going there alone. My time was nothing spectacular. I finished in 18:47 and went through 5k in around 17:20. Nothing to write home about, but the feeling of crossing the line first to the sound of bagpipes just 3 weeks after struggling to put together 20 minutes of easy running was magical in itself.


It's always fun to meet people at those things. It seems as though everyone has a background. There are the cancer survivors, the weekend warriors, the old timers, and even those who run for those who can't. It's inspiring to see and hear and it brings another dimention to the age-old 'Why do we run?' question. We all have our own reasons; be it for fun, for competition, or to feed the various chips on our shoulders that just won't quit. Regardless, I realized that no matter the level of competition or the distance of the race, everyone gets butterflies and everyone lines up to the line for a battle of sorts. It was nice getting in there again, and it's making me remember how fun it all is.


Upwards


AC


PS - It would be smooth to end it here, but I can't help it, I need to express my feelings to all dog people out there. Now that summer is upon us, I am noticing the exponential rise of dogs around my running routes. So dog lovers, here are my brief messages for you:


1- I won't judge if you like dogs, good for you! But please, make an effort to train them.
2- As a runner, I see dogs as a threat, so I apologize in advance for any profanities I will accidently yell when it comes running after me.
3- I understand that you want me to 'look at his widdle face' but I would much rather continue my run
4- Yes, your dog is cute. My answer won't change in any way, shape or form even if you repeatedly ask me ''isn't he?'' to confirm your previous statement.
5- Get a leash

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Why I sucked

Well, school is done for the year, and because I'm missing english class so much, better start blogging more.

Today's topic: Why I sucked for the past while

At first glance, openly announcing my recent struggles in running might seem rather odd or even self-abusive, but there is just something about knowing the root of a certain problem or stressor that can relieve the stress. You see, if someone last week would have had the balls to state the obvious by blatantly telling me 'hey Cyr, you're slow,' I would have taken my light runner fist and brought it to their face. Or kick them in the shins, whichever one would allow me to run away faster. But in contrast, if someone would reveal their thoughts on my speed today, or lack thereof, I would respond with a simple 'yes, I know.' Why the change? One answer. Attribution.

My problem right now is that I am performing poorly in my running training. It has brought me much distress, but once a problem is attributed to something, it gives way to clarity. I have recently been on the hunt for this clarity. However, this search for clarity through attribution can be tricky, because it makes us seek attributions to the point where we tend to make false ones if we cannot find real ones. This is also known as making excuses, or trying to find an easy way out of the initial problem. I finally found out that that was not the case for my problem as I have, though unconventionally, found this clarity through attribution. A wise man who will remain unnamed once said 'winners find a way, losers find an excuse.' Anyway, more on that later.

Lets go back to last Monday, when I was living in ignorance and denial of my problem. I had just finished a 40 minute "easy" run. Problem was, I felt like garbage, like I had been feeling for the past few months, but worse. If I'd have a theme song for that run, it would've been Nickleback featuring Nicholas Cage on the bagpipes. I got back to campus heaving and sweating, feeling as though I had completed a marathon. The discomfort was abnormal, almost otherworldly for someone who had consistently been putting in decent mileage. When wondering why this was happening, the voices in my head began speaking to me. Like in an old-fashioned cartoon, there was the angel (mine is Pre) and the devil (Gerry Lindgren). One on each shoulder.  Here is an excerpt of what was going on:

Pre - Alex, back off. You have been feeling shitty lately. Take a week of no running, if nothing gets better, go check it out. Maybe there really is something wrong. Play it safe.

Lindgren - What the hell man? You've been putting 100k+ lately and you're shitting the bed on easy runs? You really suck! How the hell do you think you're gonna run well at the bunny hop 10k next weekend? Get your shit together, suck it up and get back at it tomorrow, you plug.

Needless to say I listened to Lindgren. I really don't know why. There really is a fine line between running and schizophrenia. Anyway, I kept running on my cloud of denial up until two nice gentlemen found me lying unconsciously on a Charlottetown sidewalk on a calm Saturday morning. Ambulances rushed me to the hospital and kept me there for 3 days before diagnosing my problem. After multiple tests, a striking revelation was made. By looking at my red blood cell count, I could only muster up a few words: Holy s***, I'm anemic!'

I guess there were signs. I felt tired all the time, and I had recently adopted the skin tone of the guy living in the cupboard in Benchwarmers. My hemoglobin count was reduced to half of what a normal body should produce. According to the doctor, I was likely anemic since December or even earlier. This really made me think about things.

This news triggered mixed feelings. On one hand, it is quite disappointing, as I will have to make some changes in my immediate goals. However, my long term goals will remain the same. Because on the other hand, the much-needed attribution to my problem brought me the clarity that I craved, and having trained with low hemoglobin for so long might make me feel revitalized when I get on everyone else's level. It's basically like taking EPO on a smaller scale! I'm gonna be like Lance, cool!

In the midst of all this thinking about running, I could not refrain from feeling philosophical when I was getting tested for every heart condition known to man. What if they would have found me to be a ticking time bomb with a severe heart condition? What if this fainting spell would have been the end for me, being a sign of a deadly disease restraining me from any future physical activity? As I saw many unwell people around the hospital, everything became very real, and suddenly my diagnosis didn't seem so bad. I don't know how I would handle being stuck in a hospital for a period of time. I barely made it through 3 days without losing my mind AND I had pokemon Blue downloaded on my laptop. In all seriousness, my prayers go out to the lady whom I was sharing a room with, as she was being told that she needed to stay longer, because her condition was worsening. It really made me put everything into perspective. I'm sitting there hoping to run again by next week, while many other people are just wishing to get healthy and leave the hospital before it's too late.

To conclude, to honour the wise man, I will not make excuses while battling this disorder. Instead, I will find a way to overcome this obstacle quickly and become stronger than ever with my newly prescribed iRun pills.

Upwards

AC

P. S. 1 - To those who found me lying on the street, as well as to the doctors, nurses, family and friends who helped me get through this process, thank you very much. I will pay it forward.





Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The secret

Funny how I only blog when exams are around the corner. I guess it's a good way of avoiding studying the diversity of plants and  Thebian plays. Like really, do people even like this stuff? Seriously, those types of things just need to be placed on the back burner from time to time. Although I'll be the first one to admit that I do not enjoy the fine arts, I will assume that they are what taught me the important skill of critical thinking.

A runner who thinks critically already has half the battle won. It takes a good mix of smarts and accountability to answer the questions he has about his own training. I've been asking myself a lot of questions about training recently, and I've come to the interesting conclusion that I don't know jack s***. I think and claim that I do, but I don't. Neither do most people. 

I don't know why for some days I could run forever, and for others I struggle to get my legs up. I don't know more about why runners experience breakthrough seasons, and others stagnate. Most people who think they know what they're talking about will mumble something about enzymes and capillaries and such, but do we really know what is going on inside our complex bodies? How much of this can we control by training 'smart' rather than 'hard.' What is the SECRET? 

After having The Sports Gene by David Epstein get passed around the X-men locker room, much talk about the importance of genetics and talent have risen, so here is my pondering on the topic (and my unqualified tentative answers).

Q - Why do some people become really good in no time, while others are spinning their wheels in a mud that does not smell of sub-9 potential?

A- These people have found the type of training best suiting their body type and capabilities (high mileage vs quality mileage, tempo vs specifics etc.) On the other side, those who can't get out of their slump could be overtraining with frustration, or might be too stubborn to change it up. Here is where it is important to face the problem head first and ask, 'why am I not improving?' because running is nothing but pointless exhaustion if one does not see benefits from it. 

Q - Will I never be able to beat this guy even if I don't have his talent?

A- I think everyone has a ceiling and a floor. You reach your ceiling by hammering your training spot on for X number of years. You reach your floor by spending too many nights at the Wheel. In reality, some people have higher ceilings than others, but most rooms overlap. Therefore, it is not always the most talented that will win. Training, mental aspect, grit, and a healthy lifestyle are all factors that determine how high in your room you will stand. 

Q- Is David Rudisha really retiring??

A- No. 

These answers are by no means more right or wrong than another runner's. That's the beauty of the sport; the eternal journey in search of our body's kept secret, of the key to unlock his greatness, of what makes it tick its fastest. Sometimes I wish I knew, but then I'd already be down the border with Salazar and his robots. I'd rather figure it out on my own.

AC

PS - It was requested by Alexa Zarins that this blog should contain a portion about the weather, so here it goes:

Lately it has been sunny, then rainy, then sunny, then snowy, then sunny, then rainy, then really snowy. That's Antigonish I guess. Still gazing at a snow covered track.